Born: 8 February 1931
Died: 30 September 1955 (automobile crash)
Birthplace: Marion, Indiana
Best known as: Movie icon and star of Rebel Without a Cause
James Dean appeared in only a handful of films, the best-known being East of Eden (1955, from the novel by John Steinbeck), Rebel Without a Cause (1955, with Natalie Wood) and Giant (1956, with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson). Thrust into stardom almost immediately after his first big role, Dean was a sexually ambiguous, sensitively intelligent Angry Young Man whose dramatic intensity lit up a generation of filmgoers. His untimely death, in a high-speed car crash, guaranteed his canonization as a tragic American cinema legend. Besides his three "big" pictures, Dean had bit parts in the movies Fixed Bayonets (1951), Sailor Beware (1951, with Jerry Lewis) and Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952, with Rock Hudson); according a timeline on the official site of Dean's estate, he also worked as an extra in Trouble Along the Way, a 1953 film starring John Wayne as a college football coach.
Extra credit: Both Giant and Rebel Without a Cause were released after Dean's death... Dean was driving a Porsche 550 Spyder when he died... Dean was a member of the prestigious Actors Studio in New York; his fellow alumni include Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro... According to the James Dean official site, his first professional acting job was a 1950 Pepsi commercial "in which a group of teenagers dance around a jukebox singing 'Pepsi-Cola hits the spot'"... Dean is no relation to country singer and sausage king Jimmy Dean.
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